While others have been busy pointing to Kumble's calm demeanor as key to his selection as India coach, Harbhajan Singh believes that Jumbo's must-win spirit would be a game-changer. Calling him India's greatest match-winner, Bhajji also said Kumble would be the perfect foil for Kohli's aggression.
Anil Kumble, in a surprise move, swooped in late and outfoxed his 56 other competitors for the India cricket coach role this week. Kumble has been touted as the perfect person to manage the big egos in the Indian dressing room, to help the bowlers in a batting-heavy team, and to negate Virat Kohli's outright aggression. But his former spin-mate Harbhajan Singh delivered some key insights into how Kumble would change the team.
Harbhajan said, "With no disrespect to anyone, Anil Kumble will forever remain India's greatest ever match-winner in Test cricket. And he will bring that hunger to win in this team also. Virat will get to learn a lot from the man himself. Virat doesn't believe in draws and neither did Anil bhai. He will be Virat's ideal friend, philosopher and guide," reported PTI.
Harbhajan also praised the other qualities of his bowling partner for almost a decade.
Bhajji added, "Unbelievable work ethic and discipline. And top it all, his ability to devise strategies against opposition batsmen. Let me tell you, under Anil bhai, boys will learn the art of winning Test matches on fourth and fifth day. He will change the misconception that Indian spinners need tailor-made wickets to win Tests at home," reported PTI.
Harking back to his time at the Mumbai Indians, he explained how Kumble had guided them forward while also providing them the necessary space.
Harbhajan asked, "Tell me what's the role of a coach? At this level, his role is to help the captain in devising strategy. In Mumbai Indians, he would speak to me and Lasith Malinga–as we were the leaders in bowling department. We would tell what we are planning and he would give us his feedback. And when you got that feedback, you knew that he had done his homework," reported PTI.
He also provided an example of Kumble's forethought and planning citing the 2004-05 series against Australia when the Indian spinners managed to keep a marauding Hayden under a tight leash through the series–thanks to Kumble's insights.
"During the 2001 series, Hayden got 549 runs. With his reach, he was even sweeping deliveries well outside the off-stump. During the 2004-05 series, even though we lost 1-2, we had sorted Hayden out as he got less than 250 runs (244 runs in 8 innings). It was Anil bhai, who made me aware about the areas to bowl to Hayden. I got him out thrice, Anil bhai and (Murali) Kartik got him once for not many," Harbhajan fondly recalled.
Speaking about what made Kumble a great spinner despite not being a magician with the ball, Harbhajan said, "His above average intelligence. You can replace Dictionary's Intelligence with Anil Kumble! His biggest asset as a bowler was ability to land the ball on seam. He could do it 95 out of 100 times. The moment SG Test lands on seam, it kicks up. So even on barren pitches, Anil bhai would get the ball to kick up. I don't think any Indian bowler has been as consistent about his length like him," reported PTI.
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